In a bold move to embrace environmental education, Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine recently welcomed the Roux Center for the Environment, a new three-story academic building that’s also been certified LEED Platinum. Designed by Cambridge-based architectural firm CambridgeSeven Associates, Inc., the 29,000-square-foot interdisciplinary building brings together faculty and students from across campus into a collaborative setting focused on finding solutions to the world’s environmental challenges.

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a building with one half of the facade covered in wood and the other made of glass

Officially opened in October 2018, the Roux Center for the Environment comprises flexible classrooms, laboratories, research labs, teaching labs, offices, conference rooms, common spaces, storage, and other miscellaneous support spaces. Durable, thermally-modified poplar siding clads the east and west facades, while glass wraps around the north and south facades. The walls of glass that surround the front entrance of the building also provide views into The Lantern, an indoor amphitheater-like space that can seat up to 150 people and hosts lectures and informal gatherings. 

a large glass facade building surrounded by wood panels

“Transparency, both physical and pedagogical, enables a clearer engagement of teaching, learning and scholarship,” the architects’ project statement said. “The building’s form is expressed by two bars shifted and angled to one another within the trapezoidal site, with the east bar housing faculty offices and research labs and the west bar containing classrooms and teaching labs. A glazed circulation space connects the two, fostering connections between faculty and students.”

Related: Green-roofed CLT classrooms immerse children in nature

an interior shot of wooden steps where some people walk and some sit and study

As a teaching and learning lab for sustainable technologies, the Roux Center for the Environment includes a variety of renewable energy and energy-saving systems that have earned the building LEED Platinum certification. Examples of such systems include the rooftop solar array that offsets 13% of annual electric costs; a gray water reclamation system; high-efficiency mechanical systems for reduced energy usage; an experimental, research-based green roof; and stormwater swales at grade.

+ CambridgeSeven Associates

Images by Jeff Goldberg – Esto